Winter is slowly starting to tighten its grip on us here in Northern Ontario. My road trips are done for the year, now that it’s getting colder and the snow is getting deeper. I like to take this time to sort through my photos, update my photography portfolios and upload images to Find a Grave. I also like to reminisce on all the cemeteries I have visited during the year. Today, I wanted to share my experience visiting the Dyer Memorial Nature Reserve.
Every October I take some time off to enjoy the crispy weather and changing colors in Ontario. Hiking and visiting cemeteries in the fall are my absolute favorite. This past October, my mother, and hiking buddy visited Huntsville to do some leaf peeping and hiking with some cemetery visits along the way. One of the must-do’s on this trip was visiting the Dyer Memorial. I had read online that this memorial site and nature reserve was a monument of love, in memory of a loving Wife. When we arrived at the site, I was surprised to find out that the Dyer Memorial is also the final resting place of Betsy and Clifton Dyer.
This beautiful monument was erected in 1956 by Clifton G. Dyer, a Detroit lawyer, for his wife Betsy Browne Dyer.1 It sits about 10 minutes outside of Huntsville, in the small hamlet of Williamsport. They were frequent visitors to the area, having first honeymooned in the Muskokas in 1916. They loved the outdoors and would often tent or stay in a cabin above the Big East River, close to the spot where the memorial now sits. In the 1940s they had a permanent cottage built and visited every summer.2 Betsy passed away in 1956, and Clifton, in his mourning, had the memorial built so Betsy could be laid to rest in the place she loved so much.1 Her ashes were placed in a copper urn at the top of the memorial.2 Clifton passed away 3 years later, and his ashes were also placed within the monument.1
The road to the monument site is not paved and snakes its way up to a small car park area. There is some signage but it might be missed if you’re not paying close attention. The trail from the car park to the monument doesn’t seem like much, but once you turn the corner on the flagstone path and see the monument come into view, it’s quite impressive.
The obelisk stretches high into the sky, with a plaque near the top that reads “Dyer”. The monument is surrounded by footpaths leading every which way around the monument. Some small wooden bridges extend over a small pond with trails that curve around small clumps of trees. The lone monument stands like a sentinel in the center of it all.
At the base of the monument there is a plaque that reads:
“ERECTED IN FOND MEMORY OF / BETSY BROWNE DYER / 1884-1956 / BY HER HUSBAND / CLIFTON G. DYER / 1885-1959 / AS A PERMANENT TRIBUTE TO HER FOR THE NEVER-FAILING / AID, ENCOURAGEMENT AND INSPIRATION WHICH SHE / CONTRIBUTED TO THEIR MARRIED CAREER AND AS A / FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR THEIR ASHES. / An Affectionate, Loyal and Understanding Wife is Life’s Greatest Gift”
We were the only ones on the grounds when we visited, so we took our time to explore the area. There was no trail map to show how far the trails went, so we kept our bearings and didn’t stray too far from the monument. We crossed a small bridge and wandered around the small pond, reflecting the bright fall colors. We also explored a small clump of trees on the other side of the monument, again deciding to stay close to the stone obelisk and not walk too far down the trails.
I circled the obelisk a few times, in awe of its stature and what it represents. It was first built as a loving tribute but now stands as a memorial to both Husband and Wife.
It’s lovely to see this site so well taken care of, not just the memorial, but also the surrounding trails. I love the idea that this nature reserve preserves the area so others can experience the beauty of it, just as the Dyers did in their lifetimes.
Thanks for reading!